Kelly Oubre Jr. takes shot at Madison Square Garden’s celebrity row ahead of Knicks-76ers series

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read

The war of words between the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers leading up to their first-round series in the 2024 NBA Playoffs is now entering the stands, with the big-name celebrity fans at Madison Square Garden catching strays from Kelly Oubre Jr.

The 76ers player praised the overall environment at the Garden before taking aim at their more famous camera-seeking supporters.

“The fans are pretty crazy,” Oubre said. “They have a really good culture of bein’ wild and lovin’ basketball to the root and the core of it. So, it’s definitely, they call it the Mecca of basketball for a reason.

“The lights are super bright. They gonna give celebrities those $100,000 free tickets just to be there and not care about the game. But, y’know, that’s what they do.

“It’s gonna be super fun, and I look forward to it, man. It’s one of my favorite places to play.”

It’s certainly much more mild than the response from Knicks player Josh Hart to the comments by 76ers player Paul Reed, who earlier this week called New York an “easier team” to face than the top-seeded Boston Celtics. Hart then did not mince words in clapping back, “I don’t give a f— about what he said.”

The Knicks may have had a chance to avoid this series against the No. 7 seed altogether by losing their regular season finale, which would have given them the No. 3 seed instead of the No. 2 seed they earned to set up this matchup. In fact, one NBA executive said he was surprised the Knicks didn’t tank to ultimately avoid having to face the 76ers with Joel Embiid.

Philadelphia emerged from the play-in round with a win against the Miami Heat on Wednesday. Embiid returned from a lengthy injury absence earlier this month, and his presence has infused the 76ers with a confidence that they are not shy about putting on display.

The atmosphere at the Garden has been getting something of a renaissance the past two seasons with the newfound success of the team under head coach Tom Thibodeau and emerging superstar Jalen Brunson. Last season, the Knicks eliminated the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games, and Cavs big man Jarrett Allen recently had to address his post-series comments that the lights were “brighter than expected.”

On the flip side, Cavs teammate Donovan Mitchell said he enjoyed playing that series at the Garden, which he said was “jumping.” That only added to the idea that the All-Star would like to play for New York at some point in his career.

Game 1 of this year’s series between the Knicks and 76ers will be played Saturday at the Garden, followed by Game 2 there on Monday.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.